National News

Yes, U.S. oil exports would cut gas prices. Probably.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-22 02:00

A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office says that lifting 40-year-old restrictions on exporting U.S. crude oil could drive down gasoline prices at home. The idea is that more oil on the world market means lower prices.

However, the report was written more than a month ago — That is, before world oil prices, and U.S. gasoline prices, went down sharply on their own. It's worth asking if those declines change the equation.

In a way, U.S. crude is already affecting world markets, by reducing U.S. imports. That leaves oil exporters like Nigeria looking for takers and lowering their prices. So, do world markets really want U.S. crude right now? 

"Nobody can be certain," says energy consultant Geoffrey Styles. "We’re really exploring new territory here. The new crudes that have brought all this about came to the market when prices were pretty high. These are not-inexpensive crudes to get out of the ground."

So, it might not be worthwhile for U.S. drillers to increase production if world prices stay low.

Which is still an if.

"I don’t think anyone knows what the price of oil will be in a year," says Michael Levi, senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations. "The big news in the oil markets is not just lower prices — it’s the return of volatility, and volatility works in both directions."  

Either way, it’s not an argument for keeping the export ban. "In the worst case," he says, "relaxing the ban doesn't do anything."

 

Halloween-Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Christmas-New-Year Buying Begins

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-22 01:53

Most retailers are feeling optimistic as analysts forecast rising sales over this long shopping season. They are hoping Halloween will give them a good bounce into the peak spending time of the year.

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The Crime That Has Shocked Pakistan

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-22 00:33

Abdul Sattar Edhi and his foundation are synonymous with humanitarian work in Pakistan. But that didn't keep the foundation from being robbed of more than $1 million, provoking widespread outrage.

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The 2014 Campaign Ads That You Just Can't Stop Replaying

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-22 00:33

States that could determine which party controls the Senate next year have been barraged for months with campaign ads. For better or for worse, here are some of the most noteworthy.

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3 American Teens Reportedly Suspected Of Trying To Join ISIS

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 23:10

Three Denver teens were stopped at a German airport and sent home to the U.S. Their disappearance was originally treated as a standard runaway case.

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Giants Pummel Royals From The Start In Game 1 World Series Win

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 19:46

A three-run first inning was all San Francisco needed to top Kansas City and steal home field advantage. They tacked on another four runs anyway to win 7-1.

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Ben Bradlee, Who Led 'Washington Post' To New Heights, Dies At 93

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 16:09

As editor, Bradlee led the newspaper to national eminence with charm, drive, instinct and, most notably, an epic confrontation with the Nixon White House.

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Legendary 'Washington Post' Editor Ben Bradlee Has Died

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 15:58

Bradlee was the editor who ushered in the paper's golden era, overseeing its reporting during the Watergate scandal.

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NBC News Photojournalist Is Now Ebola Free, Says Hospital

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 15:13

The Nebraska Medical Center says Ashoka Mukpo was cleared by the CDC and will be discharged on Wednesday.

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Quiz: Gauging the liberal arts gap

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 15:01
The median earnings gender gap is largest for graduates in which humanities major?

Women with bachelor's degrees in the humanities earn less than men in other majors, according to a report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Missouri Governor Announces Creation Of 'Ferguson Commission'

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 14:19

The panel will study the social and economic conditions that fueled violent protests over the killing of an unarmed teenager this summer.

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Ebola Vaccine Could Start Testing In Africa By January

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 14:08

The World Health Organization says two vaccine candidates now undergoing small-scale tests of dosage and safety in people might be ready for broader deployment in Africa by early 2015.

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In More Cities, That Doggie In The Window Is Not For Sale

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 13:30

Almost 50 U.S. cities and towns have banned pet stores from selling puppies. The laws are aimed at cracking down on substandard, large-scale breeders, but many store owners say the bans are unfair.

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My Son Is Doctors Without Borders' 1,000th Ebola Survivor

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 12:52

Liberian health worker Alexander Kollie lost his wife, daughters and brother to Ebola. Then his son tested positive for the disease. He survived, and now father and son are building a new life.

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For Healthy Liberians, Life Continues — With Some Adjustments

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 12:51

The million-plus healthy residents of Liberia's capital, Monrovia, are doing their best to maintain their lives in a city where Ebola has killed more than 1,300.

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Duke Energy CEO: 'I Don't Think Of Myself As A Powerful Woman'

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 12:27

Female executives are a rarity in the energy industry. But Lynn Good, CEO of Duke Energy, took the helm of the utility giant just as it was grappling with some very public challenges.

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From NFL To 'Scandal,' Whole Foods Buys TV Ads To Boost Its Brand

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 12:09

A pioneer in selling organic, sustainable groceries, Whole Foods now finds itself beset by competitors. So it's launching its first national ad blitz to sell socially conscious consumers on its story.

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Hospitals Struggle To Beat Back Serious Infections

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 12:05

About 75,000 patients a year die from infections they caught in the hospital. A Kaiser Health News analysis finds that nearly 700 hospitals across the nation have higher than expected infection rates.

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Watchdog: $7 Billion U.S. Effort Doesn't Dent Afghan Poppy Production

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 11:35

The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction found that despite U.S. counternarcotics efforts, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record high in 2013.

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Can McDonald's regain its customer base?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 11:21

The Golden Arches are losing their luster - McDonald's reported that its profits fell by 30 percent.

McDonald’s problems right now are complicated, says Jennifer Bartashus, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. She says we should start by looking at the company's target market.

“The customer profile still remains people who are in the lower income, lower-middle-income bracket,” Bratashus says.

These folks haven’t recovered from the recession and are still looking for bargains. McDonald’s problem? Meat and cheese prices are rising, which means its prices are too.

At the same time, McDonald’s is also trying to respond to changing consumer tastes by adding healthier, more expensive options - like salads and parfaits - to its menu.

“They’ve tried to be something for everyone as opposed to being everything for some people,” Bratashus says.

Bob Goldin, an analyst with Technomic, says McDonald’s is also facing increased competition from “fast casual” restaurants like Chipotle and Panera.

“I think the perception among many consumers is that it’s a fresher product and better quality,” Goldin says of the rival chains. He adds that these restaurants often cost just a few bucks more than some of the meals you find at McDonald's.

John Gordon is an analyst at Pacific Management Consulting Group and he says McDonald’s is losing ground with another group: millennials. He says they like restaurants that let you customize your order. And McDonald's has missed this trend, in part, because of its corporate culture.

“They’re such an insular group,” Gordon says. “They tend to think more about what the corporation wants rather than maybe what the customer wants.”

McDonald's' CEO Don Thompson admitted the company has to play catch-up. It’s starting by piloting menus that let you build your own burger at a few Southern California restaurants.

As we discovered, McDona'd strategy has... changed... over time. These needed to go somewhere:

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